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It may be time to reset your Apple Watch

It may be time to reset your Apple Watch

I remember the days where it was not only commonplace, but encouraged to wipe your computer and start fresh on a regular basis. A common performance troubleshooting tactic, starting over with a clean slate was good for your operating system, as well as your mental health. Windows even has a built-in “Refresh” feature that essentially blasts Windows back to new while keeping your files intact. macOS supports Time Machine backups for conveniently restoring personal files in the case of a system wipe (or system replacement).

I would argue this practice of a full system wipe and starting fresh is less common these days. However it may be more common on our personal devices, like our smart phones, than it is on our primary computers. I know some folks to start fresh every year with a brand new iPhone. Others take the “Restore from backup” route and breathe easy knowing they don’t need to fiddle with their settings.

Whatever camp you fall into, it’s still a general best practice to factory wipe and start clean eventually. There’s plenty of data out there supporting this, so feel free to research it. My most recent experience with this was for a device that may seem like an unlikely candidate: the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch issues

I wear my watch every day, without fail. My primary use cases for the little wearable is keeping tabs on my schedule at a glance, tracking my workouts and health performance data, setting cooking timers, and staying connected while trying to use my iPhone less. This last one has been top of mind for me more and more lately as my kids are growing up. I don’t want them to remember time with dad as “he was always on his phone.”

Lately, however, my Apple Watch was making it very difficult to reduce reliance on my iPhone. I was having frustrating issues like

  • Calls would fail to connect, or one person would fail to hear the other
  • Listening or streaming music to AirPods would fail, either due to acting like it had no LTE connection, or failing to connect to my AirPods
  • Home App tasks, like controlling my garage door when going for a walk, would spin and spin and spin
  • General poor performance when I was away from my iPhone

These issues made me question why I even had the darn thing. If I couldn’t rely on it while away from my phone, what real value was it providing me?

A clean start

Knowing that this device should be capable of so much more than how it was performing helped me remain determined to get it working well again. I really didn’t want to write it off and say, “ehh, when it dies it dies… I likely won’t upgrade or get another one.” I truly want the Apple Watch to work, and work well. I want it to succeed not just for me, but as a product that has the potential to help ween my fellow man from phone addiction.

About a week ago, I decided to factory reset the Apple Watch. In the grand scheme of resetting devices, the Apple Watch is, in my opinion, the least risky device to perform a reset. Watch faces can be easily re-added, most user data is pulled from my iPhone, and my watch settings mostly consist of simply putting it in silent mode.

Going through the reset was a painless operation, and relatively quick (compared to the Series 3 resets and restores… ughh). I was pleasently surprised by the new setup process and steps in watchOS 10, which users wouldn’t have seen when upgrading from watchOS 9. I chose to go with the clean start and I didn’t restore any backups. I think this may be the key to having success with the whole operation.

The results

So the main question then: did it make any difference?

I’m glad to say that it did. At least it appears to have helped so far. Cellular calls are connecting and we can both ends can hear each other. I was able to play a playlist from my watch to my AirPods just yesterday while doing yardwork, away from my iPhone, without any connection issues. The Home app is more responsive. The overall experience is more what you would expect it to be: delightful.

If you find yourself in a similar sitiation where your Apple Watch simply seems to not be performing at the level you remember, or what you think it should be, it may be time to reset and start fresh.

Have you found yourself needing to reset your Apple Watch? Let me know about your experience!

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